Just 12 Christian Brothers have been convicted of child sex abuse despite allegations being made against 325 members of the order, a safeguarding audit has found.
The audit of the Christian Brothers shows that since 1975, 870 allegations of abuse have been made against 325 brothers.
All allegations have been reported to gardaí and the HSE, but just 50 of
the brothers involved are still alive. One brother who is alleged to
have carried out abuse is still in ministry; while 49 have retired;
another 49 are out of ministry; and 145 have died. Just 12 brothers have
According to the report: “The files read by the reviewers left them in
no doubt that a great number of children were seriously abused by
It also said: “The number of convictions by the courts, compared to the
numbers accused of child abuse, is significantly small.”
The Ryan Report had already uncovered the massive scale of abuse carried
out by Christian Brothers but the audit published yesterday said that
order had acknowledged the “inadequacy of their historical response” and
had improved child protection structures throughout its ministries.
Of the 50 members against whom allegations have been made the audit
report said it was “safer for children if those accused remain as part
of a community and safety and support plans can be put in place”.
But Maeve Lewis, of One in Four, said the low rate of convictions for
sex offences among dioceses and religious matched that in society and
was “a huge challenge” for everyone.
The report also said the Brothers now report allegations promptly to the
authorities and dealt closely with the gardaí and the HSE.
It found allegations notified to the Christian Brothers most often came
through the alleged victim’s legal representative. It also found some
confusion over the way files of complaints were maintained.
“It is unclear from some of the files when the Brother was removed from
ministry; the process that led to the action; and the procedures in
place regarding monitoring and review following the individual’s
There were also no records of preliminary investigations on files, often
in cases of no criminal prosecution, meaning reviewers felt the alleged
perpetrator was often “in a limbo situation”.
It also urged the Christian Brothers to consider reviewing their
response to victims, in consultation with victims or victim groups, and
develop a strategy which sets out the support options for complainants.
In a statement the Christian Brothers’ Province Leadership Team said:
“We want to learn from the mistakes of the past and to create a safe
environment for all children and young adults. By developing robust
child protection measures and inviting the national board to
independently assess these, we aim to continuously enhance child
protection safeguards so that the mistakes of the past may never be
“The congregation accepts in full the national board’s recommendations
on how to further enhance safeguarding measures. Half of the board’s
recommendations have already been implemented or are nearing completion
and work on the remaining elements is underway.”